During early May 1864, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman successfully outmaneuvered the army of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston in multiple battles in northwest Georgia. Each time, Johnston fell back to a new defensive position closer to the strategic Confederate city of Atlanta. After Johnston retreated to Allatoona Pass on May 19-20th following the battle at Adairsville, Sherman determined to move around Johnston’s left flank rather than attack the strong Confederate defenses in his front. On May 23rd, Sherman set in motion Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas's Army of the Cumberland toward the town of Dallas, Georgia, 30 miles from Atlanta. Johnston anticipated Sherman’s move and blocked the Federals at New Hope Church. Believing the Confederates at New Hope were merely a token force, Sherman ordered Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s Twentieth Corps to attack on May 25th. Advancing over rough terrain, later dubbed the "hell hole" by Hooker's men, the Federal soldiers were severely mauled in front of the Confederate earthworks by infantry and artillery fire. Both sides dug in, and skirmishing continued throughout May 26th. The next day, Sherman ordered a withdrawal and concentrated his efforts in the area towards the northern end of the Confederate line, resulting in the Battle of Pickett's Mill.